REVIEW: Protecting Tanner Hollow by Lynette Eason!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hey everyone!


Today's post is a review of Protecting Tanner Hollow by Lynette Eason, as part of the Revell Reads review program.  This book is actually four romantic suspense novellas in one.  Each story builds off of one another and even pulls some characters from her other series, such as Derek St. John from the Blue Justice series.  The descriptions for each novella are listed below:


Lethal Homecoming
Nolan Tanner never got over Kallie Ainsworth's sudden, unexplained departure.  Now when he comes to her rescue after an attempt on her life, all the old feelings come rushing back.

Lethal Conspiracy 
When a professional fundraiser Lillian Maloney sees her father's campaign manager commit murder, she goes on the run from the men he hires to kill her.  A close call brings firefighter Jason Tanner to the rescue, but the killer is closing in...

Lethal Secrets
Someone wants Honor McBride dead.  When Eli Murphy helps her change a flat tire and discovers the danger Honor is in, he longs to help - but Eli has secrets of his own that could get them all killed.

Lethal Agenda
When Detective Derek St. John rescues a woman he's met only once before - and has never been able to forget - he finds himself falling for her.  But he'll have to keep Claire Montgomery alive if they're to have a future together.

Purchase Protecting Tanner Hollow on Amazon HERE.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LYNETTE EASON is the bestselling author of Oath of Honor, Called To Protect, Code of Valor, and Vow of Justice, as well as the Women of Justice, Deadly Reunions, Hidden Identity, and Elite Guardians series.  She is the winner of three ACFW Carol Awards, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, among others.  She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and has a master's degree in education from Converse College.  Eason lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children.  Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.  Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


MY REVIEW

This book is fantastic for anyone who likes clean romantic suspense stories, and it's also a great pick for the busy holiday season.  The novellas can be read in any order, but the earlier stories introduce the Tanner brothers, Nolan and Jason, and their love interests; a good reference point for the later two books.  I was especially excited to read Derek St. John's story, having obsessed over the Blue Justice series this year.  This novella in particular (Lethal Agenda) picks up about two/three years after the ending of Vow of Justice from the Blue Justice series, but can still be read as a standalone with no background from the series.  

It was exciting to read about two new characters, Nolan and Jason Tanner, and I honestly finished the novella collection hoping that Eason weaves them into other books of hers later on.  I loved each character and how they developed through the novellas.  Each story had a great premise and were filled with fast-paced action.

Novellas can be a little tricky to write well, especially when larger plots/back-stories are necessary to include.  While some portions of each story felt a little rushed, and sometimes it difficult to connect with a main character when you hardly know them yet (especially in Kallie's case from Lethal Homecoming, in my opinion), I thought that these stories were very well written.  By the end of each story, I was able to appreciate each character individually and how their stories were woven into the plot at hand.  I did enjoy the third and fourth novellas the most, and found them to be easier to become invested in than the first two.  

Overall, I absolutely loved this set of novellas, and I would not hesitate to buy another novella collection if Eason ever published more.  They were intense - typical Eason fashion - and still heartfelt and powerful from the "family and faith" perspective.  I read the last two novellas in one day, although they were a smidge longer than the first two.  Anyone who is a fan of Eason will find Protecting Tanner Hollow to be an enjoyable and fast-paced read.  



Have you read any of Eason's books before?  What are your thoughts on novellas - yay or nay?  And are you planning on picking up a copy of Protecting Tanner Hollow?  




REVIEW: Deadly Deceit by Natalie Walters

Friday, November 15, 2019

Hey everyone!  I had the wonderful opportunity to read and review Natalie Walters' newest novel, Deadly Deceit, as part of the Revell Reads program.  Granted, I had never read any of Walters' novels before, but I'd heard so much about Deadly Deceit on social media that I decided to try it out.  Although it is part of a series (it's book two of the Harbored Secrets series), I was still able to follow its plot with ease.

SYNOPSIS


Independent and tenacious journalist Vivian DeMarco is back in Walton, Georgia, for one reason - to do her job and get out.  When her boss suddenly dies under suspicious circumstances, Vivian's only hope for finding the truth - and the next big story - is small-town law enforcement's lanky poster boy, Deputy Ryan Frost.  But the deeper they dig, the more twisted the truth becomes.  False leads, incriminating emails, and someone called the Watcher force Vivian to fight for answers - and her life.


MY REVIEW
This book is fantastic, and arguably one of the best romantic suspense novels of this year (that I've read, anyway).  DeMarco and Frost work extremely well together, and I loved their chemistry.  Their back-and-forth is perfect and keeps the romantic subplot working, constantly under the pressures of finding the Watcher and keeping each other alive.  I have to admit that I absolutely adored the pop culture references in the book - lots of Disney and Marvel mentions, which I'm 100% here for all the time.  Early on, when DeMarco is referenced to as Rapunzel from Tangled because DeMarco wielded a frying pan, I decided that I loved the book.  The characters were almost tangible and their struggles were very real.  

Within the book, there are several instances where minor characters are featured, having received a threat from the Watcher.  While it was initially difficult to see why they were featured and then dropped off the radar temporarily, every character and every threat is interwoven as DeMarco and Frost get closer to finding the Watcher.  The plot is constantly moving and keeps you guessing until the last possible second - it's not one of those crime dramas where you know who the villain is right off the bat.  

While there were some parts of the book that were a bit slower, I ended up reading the last hundred pages or so all in one sitting, with only one brief intermission so I could remember to blink.  The characters and plot were written well enough that I could jump right into the book without any prior knowledge from the first book, Living Lies.  I appreciated that about Deadly Deceit, and it definitely encouraged me to check out Living Lies as well as the upcoming books in the Harbored Secrets series.  After reading this, I think Natalie Walters can join Lynette Eason for the ranks of my favorite romantic suspense authors!  


Have you read Deadly Deceit or Living Lies from Natalie Walters yet?  What did you enjoy most?  If not, do you plan to read either of them?


REVIEW: I Choose Peace by Doug Bender

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

I had the opportunity of being part of the street team and an ARC reader for the newest I Am Second book by Doug Bender, titled I Choose Peace.  This book gathers stories from many different individuals of diverse walks of life and uses them to describe the importance of faith and finding peace within the situation you're in - and most importantly, choosing to keep that peace.


SYNOPSIS

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Peace.  We are all looking for it.  We all need it.  Yet for many, it remains just out of reach.  Restless, discontent, lacking in purpose and direction, we feel its absence.  

But peace can be found.  I Choose Peace tells the stories of people who searched everywhere for fulfillment and wholeness but found it only when they put Jesus first in their lives.  Those who found contentment, happiness, and peace in the face of every kind of struggle include: 

  • Chip and Joanna Gaines
  • Kathie Lee Gifford
  • Albert Pujols
  • Shawn Johnson
  • Phil and Kay Robertson
  • Brian "Head" Welch
  • Lee Yih
  • Ben King
  • Eric Metaxas
  • R. A. Dickey
  • Jason "Propaganda" Petty
  • Lauren Scruggs Kennedy
  • Austin Carlile
  • Lynsi Snyder
  • Cody Garbrandt
Raw, compelling, and profoundly inspiring, the stories in I Choose Peace remind us that no matter your struggle, what you've done, or what's been done to you, you can still choose peace.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach.  He developed many of the small group tools found at iamsecond.com and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family.  He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US.  Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.  


Click HERE to purchase from your favorite retailer!


MY REVIEW

Being a follower of the I Am Second Facebook page, I was thrilled for the opportunity to review I Choose Peace.  These are stories from people you may recognize well; others may be new faces.  Many of them have already completed a "white chair interview" for I Am Second, and the book tracks their progress after that point as well.  Kathie Lee Gifford, Phil & Kay Robertson, and Chip & Joanna Gaines are some of the people I was most familiar with.  This book follows people who hit rock bottom and somehow kept falling; people who have had horrid childhoods, faced abuse and hardship, and still choose to follow God and seek peace in their lives.  Their stories are succinct, have impact, and are memorable.

One thing that I appreciated the most about the book was its organization: it divides the interviews/stories into like-minded sections, from people who have struggled with similar issues.  The book is very easy to read and follow, and its transitions are great.  


The themes surrounding this book aren't exclusive to peace, though: it portrays the importance of hope and seeking God even in harsh, horrific circumstances.  It portrays the need to remain faithful.  It is truly a great book for anyone who needs uplifted, anyone struggling with any amount of problems like addiction, abuse, anxiety, loss, perfectionism, body image issues - the whole nine yards.  
It was fascinating to read stories from so many people in so many different backgrounds and how, even though they might be wildly different, their problems ultimately stemmed from the same thing and were solved by one thing - their faith.  Even if you aren't struggling with something, it's a great reminder of God's sovereignty - how He has enough power to protect you, even in any hopeless situation, and how His plans work for your good.  Giving up the need to control every ounce of your life is where you choose peace. 



Are you planning on ordering I Choose Peace?  What are some ways that you have found peace in the midst of struggle?


SPOTLIGHT: Rescue Road by Gayle M. Irwin!

Sunday, November 10, 2019



Hey everyone!  Today I have a book spotlight highlighting Rescue Road, a clean contemporary romance novel written by author Gayle M. Irwin!  Let's get right to it! 

About The Author: 




Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning author and freelance writer, being recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She is a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the author of many inspirational pet books and stories for both children and adults. She subtly weaves important life lessons within the lines and pages of her stories, including courage, kindness, perseverance, friendship, appreciation of nature, and the importance of pet rescue and adoption. Her first novel, a clean, contemporary pet rescue romance titled Rescue Road, releases November 2019. A pet rescue and adoption advocate, she volunteers for various dog rescue and humane society organizations and donates a percentage of all book sales to such groups. Gayle resides in Wyoming with her husband and their adopted animals. Learn more about the author, her writing endeavors, and her pets, and receive free stories and resources by visiting her website: www.gaylemirwin.com.


Follow Gayle M. Irwin on the following social media sites: Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest


About Rescue Road:


Freelance writer Rhiann Kelly shelved romance for years. Her dream of starting an animal sanctuary takes deep roots after finding the perfect location in southwestern Montana and purchasing the property for back taxes.

Emergency medical technician Levi Butler knows his elderly friend George left the ranch to him in his will. Levi anxiously awaits the probate to be complete so he can plan his retirement and begin his dream of raising and selling horses.

When Rhiann and Levi find each other at the ranch simultaneously, sparks fly - and not the romantic kind. Yet their attraction for one another can’t be denied and deepens after Levi finds Rhiann injured in an accident. Meantime, land developer Dallas Patterson sets his sights on charming Rhiann to obtain the land.

Can Rhiann and Levi work together to detour Patterson and find a solution in which neither needs to give up their dream, or will the fence line of their hearts – and the property - separate them forever? Can their broken paths weave their hearts together as they travel the rescue road?


Purchase Rescue Road from the following retailers! Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble for Nook | Kobo



Doesn't this sound like an adorable plot? A freelance writer, a ranch, horses, rescue animals...I mean, it sounds perfect! What do you think of it?




COVER REVEAL: Guide Me Home!

Friday, November 8, 2019



Hey everyone...guess what day it is!
GUESS. WHAT. DAY. IT. IS.
(Well, it's not hump day anymore, and Friday *is* exciting, but...)
COVER REVEAL DAY IS HERE!
*insert Chris Sullivan voice*


I admit that I have posted about Guide Me Home...hardly at all.  I've been working on it steadily and just received my proof copy in the mail this week, which means that I'm getting everything squared away to release it soon!  What's it about, you may ask? 

It is the third and final installment of the Faith, Hope, and Love collection, preceded by Welcome Home and My Compass Home.  

SYNOPSIS
Cortland may as well have been turned upside-down.  

Morgan Barnes has watched her cousins grow up and get married left and right.  Having no luck with finding a proper fellow for herself, she's ready to give up - until she's blindsided by Martin Nolan.Cortland means new life for Martin.  However, old habits are hard to break, even if he truly wants to. Can he seize the opportunities given to him, or will he shove it all away?  

Meanwhile, Lucy and Spencer's comfortable little world gets upended and then flipped sideways to boot.  With a baby on the way and Lucy's father making a surprise appearance, their hands and hearts are full. When disaster strikes, can they stay afloat?  

And now resides faith, hope, and love - but in the final chapters, will the Barnes and Clarkson families see God's plan for it all?  The final book in the Faith, Hope, and Love collection.



Sound good? I hope so. It's the thickest book in the series -- actually, the word count clocks it in as a novel, not a novella like the first two.

Yes, I'm actively trying to keep myself from splitting it into two smaller books to keep everything the same.

Without further ado, and before I can linger on the word count...


It's not the prettiest in the universe, no. But it's in keeping with the rest of the series.

So when is this book baby being released to the world?

God-willing, I'm looking at an early December release, hopefully the 6th or earlier. I may even have a preorder up for the Kindle by Thanksgiving. And if you're curious about the series and want caught up before this book hits those digital shelves, the first two books will be on sale over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as part of Perry Elisabeth Kirkpatrick's huge sale she's organizing (stay tuned for info on that!)






Have you read any of the books from the Faith, Hope, and Love collection? Anyone looking forward to Guide Me Home?


SPOTLIGHT: More Than A Second Chance by Lisa Renée!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Finished Blog Tour Banner Lisa Renee

Hey everyone!  Today's post is featuring the new Christian novel More Than A Second Chance by Lisa Renée!  It sounds absolutely fantastic, so you'll want to check it out -- and maybe even enter the giveaway below!  But first...the book itself!
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ABOUT THE BOOK
Cassie Chambers, a dedicated youth worker, is determined to rescue the troubled youth in the city of Perth, Australia. Cassie has made mistakes but hasn't allowed tragedy or divorce to stop her. She devotes every working hour at Youth Connect. But her own needs ar e neglected. Chef Chris Evanson offers work experience to young men from Youth Connect. Cassie and Chris's encounters become more than sassy bantering with a hint of attraction. Chris is a sincere romantic. How will Chris respond when he finds out her se cret? She must tell him before he falls in love. Will he believe she deserves more than a second chance? To complicate matters, one of Youth Connect's troubled teens needs rescuing. She's pregnant and moves in with Cassie, bringing absolute chaos. Chris g ains insight into what life with Cassie involves. Does he still want the total package? Is he Cassie's true soul mate?


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Renée is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Omega Writers, Australia. With an Australian theme, she wrote the Single Again series featuring More Than a Second Chance and Acres of Promise, to encourage women to heal past wounds and to dare trust again. Lisa adores babies enough to have seven of her own. Recently, Lisa has taken up breeding Ragdoll cats instead of breeding humans. The tribe lives in Australia, where Lisa and her husband enjoy their writing projects, public speaking, and are on the pastoral team at their church
FIND LISA HERE
Copy of Once
near the basket, Cassie stepped to the side, pivoted, jumped, and threw the ball high.Chris
grabbed her waist as she came back down. He held
her in mid
-
air as she called out, “Itwent in!”


One person will win an eBook copy of More Than A Second Chance by Lisa Renée.


Copy of Copy
of Once near the basket, Cassie stepped to the side, pivoted, jumped, and threw the ball
high.Chris grabbed her waist as she came back down. He held her in mid
-
air as she called out,
“Itwent in!” (1)




Anyone else looking forward to reading More Than A Second Chance?  I know I am!


COVER REVEAL: Sarah Grace Grzy's Newest Novella!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

This is a post you won't want to miss. 

Sarah Grace Grzy's latest novella is coming out in Spring 2020 - and today, I'm thrilled to participate in the cover reveal - and not only do we get to see the cover, the title was just released along with the synopsis!! 

Brace yourself.  It's absolutely fantastic. 

SYNOPSIS

NEVER SAY GOODBYE

They say time heals all wounds. But he was finding it a poor painkiller. 
Tyler Collens has seen grief and loss in his years of experience as a paramedic—but he never expected it to touch his life in such a personal way. The death of his wife eighteen months ago shook his steady world and changed him in more ways than he can count. Time and routine have steadied his feet, and he looks toward the future as he raises his infant daughter—but the past has a tighter grip on him than he knows. 

Alyvia Emmerson has never been certain of who she is or where she belongs. Her dad’s abandonment as a teen broke a fragile piece of her heart, but ten years later, she has moved on. Living on her own, she at last has a project to devote herself to: revitalizing a shabby bookstore. But she didn’t count on her dream job revealing the shattered pieces of herself she thought mended long ago.


 In this sophomore novella featuring beloved characters from Live Without You, Sarah Grace Grzy explores themes of grief and hope in a story that touches both the heart and spirit. 







Isn't.  That.  Stunning?! Spring 2020 can't come soon enough!!
While you're waiting, make sure to pick up a copy of Live Without You - available on Amazon - and make sure to add Never Say Goodbye on Goodreads HERE.

Follow Sarah Grace Grzy on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook (@sarahgrace.grzy) | Pinterest 


Are you looking forward to the release of Never Say Goodbye?  What do you think of that cover?! 



GUIDE ME HOME Cover Reveal!!!

Friday, October 18, 2019



Hey everyone!  This week marked the start of Draft 3 for Guide Me Home, which entails the first time I'm actually reading my own book in order.  Is it weird that I'm nervous and excited?...Probably. 

Anyway, you'll be hearing more about it later, but I wanted to let you guys know that I'll be doing a cover reveal on November 8th!  I just finished the front cover yesterday and while I might need to do some more tweaks, I actually really like how it turned out.  On the first try, no less! 

If you'd like to help me spread the word about the upcoming novella *and* if you want to be among the first people to see the cover, would you consider joining my cover reveal?  Anyone is welcome to join as long as you have some form of social media or a blog -- and if you're reading this, you probably do!  Sign-ups are open now, and as a thank-you for celebrating the cover reveal with me, you'll be entered in a giveaway for an ebook copy of Guide Me Home!  

Sounds fun?  Click HERE to join!!

REVELL READS REVIEW: "Forged Through Fire" by Mark McDonough, MD

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hey everyone!  I had the opportunity to review the new memoir Forged Through Fire: A Reconstructive Surgeon's Story of Survival, Faith, and Healing through the Revell Reads program.  I'll give you a little bit of back-cover-matter about the book, and then I'll just dive right in with the review.

SYNOPSIS:


"PAIN IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY 
When Mark McDonough was a teen, a catastrophic fire claimed the lives of his mother and younger brother.  It also left Mark with burns on over 65 percent of his body.  During a long and painful recovery, his faltering faith in God was strengthened by a remarkable near-death experience.  Numerous reconstructive surgeries and postoperative rehabilitation motivated him to become a physical therapist.  His work with burn, disease, and trauma patients inspired him to become a reconstructive surgeon, working to help those who suffer as he has.  McDonough has overcome numerous other adversities on his journey, including addition and a stroke.  Now he shares his incredible true story of survival and perseverance to bring hope and healing to those dealing with great physical and emotional pain.  

If you or a loved one has suffered from personal trauma, disease, or loss that has tested or stolen your faith and exhausted your emotional resources, you'll find real hope in this redemptive story."  



MY REVIEW: 

4.5/5 stars

This book was fascinating, one that I couldn't put down.  I'd say that is a testament to this book in and of itself, because it's nonfiction and deals with a lot of heavy topics.  Dr. McDonough explains the trauma he experienced with a very vivid and succinct vocabulary.  While he describes a lot of medical procedures in the book, he also takes the time to explain them to readers who might not have an extensive medical background.  I found the book to be not only inspiring, but also very informational.  

As I read this book, I found myself aghast at the amount of trauma that Dr. McDonough faced.  As is mentioned in the synopsis, he loses his mother and young brother to a house fire that also burns most of his body.  That's just the beginning of the laundry list of setbacks and injuries that he faced on the road to recovery.  That he was able to maintain and grow in his faith is astounding and very inspirational.  I won't go into detail about everything that he mentions in the book - it's just something you have to read for yourself to believe - but as I said, it's an excellent read.  If you're looking for healing or facing health problems, it's a good book to pick up.  He also describes a near-death experience which is amazing to read: a moment where he's reassured that his lost family members are safe with God and that he has to keep fighting for recovery because his life isn't finished yet.  

I think the only thing that I found difficult in this book is the pacing.  Sometimes, especially earlier in the book, the author jumps back and forth between events, making it a little difficult to keep each event straight as far as how they happened chronologically.  (And there are a lot of events that take place.)  That issue seems to resolve itself later and with further explanation, however.  

As the story goes on, he talks about his family and other tragedies that befall them, as well as the strides he took to keep the faith through it all.  It's satisfying to watch him grow from a young, deeply wounded (mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually) kid to the doctor that he became and is today.  As I mentioned before, I think it's a great book that is very much worth the read.  

Do you plan on picking up a copy of Forged Through Fire?  

If you'd like to connect with Dr. McDonough, you can follow him on Facebook HERE and on Twitter HERE.  

Many thanks, again, to Revell Reads for the opportunity to review this fantastic book!  

BLOG TOUR: Double Review & Spotlight!

Thursday, September 5, 2019



Hey everyone! Today's post is part of the double-release tour for Faith Potts and Kaitlyn Krispense, highlighting their new releases Freedom and Beloved.

Both of these books focus on characters who desire to, or have attempted to, take their own lives. It's not an easy topic to touch upon, nor is it an easy one to write. I have to applaud both of these ladies for their depictions -- not glorifying or romanticizing the act, but not writing their troubled characters in a degrading manner either. It's a problem that plagues our nation, one that touches many individuals and crosses generational divides.


Every day, an average of 22 veterans commit suicide -- whether it's because of the things they've seen, the injuries they've sustained (visible or invisible), or because of the struggle to return to civilian life, it's an enormous problem. This issue, especially, exploded after the events of September 11th and the war that ensued.

This is what Faith's book, Freedom, centers upon.
ABOUT THE BOOK

Having just returned to American soil from the desert sands of the Middle East, James Greene is done with his life. 'Double amputee' doesn't seem like a strong enough phrase to label the physical and emotional pain he bears. Add the lack of love and communication with his family members, the demons that haunt him day and night, and he can find nothing worth living for. Ending it all is the only way out. 

Alexandria Lorance is a not-so-ordinary physical therapist, content with aiding in her patients' recoveries. Her work gives her fulfillment, but alone in the silence, she still endures the hidden scars of a past, unhealthy relationship. Reminding herself that true healing is found in Christ alone, she seeks to show kindness and love to everyone she meets.

When these two broken ones' paths intersect, the spark of friendship is ignited, bringing hope and joy to both. Can they step out of the darkness of suffering and into the freedom of grace? 

A Marine, broken by war. A therapist, scarred by words. A chance meeting in a parking lot bonded them together. But can love grow in these two hurting hearts? Or are they truly too broken to ever find lasting happiness? 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Saved by God's grace, Faith Potts is a teenage writer and homeschool graduate, living with her family and beloved yellow labs in the North Carolina mountains. When she’s not weaving stories, consuming large amounts of coffee, reading stacks of books, or studying American Sign Language, she can be found laughing harder than is healthy, daydreaming, and—of course—blowing dandelions.



MY REVIEW

This book was one that I had to keep reading -- I found it hard to put it down.  From the start, the characters were ones that I wanted to learn more about, to delve into their history, and to help.  Weird wanting to protect fictional characters, right?  Anyway, the book discussed difficult topics like poor family life, toxic relationships, and also suicide.  That being said, it's not a feel-good, light book (and that's probably why I liked it).  It has weight.  I would love to get into several different reasons why I liked the book, but they're all spoilers, so you'll just have to read it for yourself.  Its messages were solid and realistic; James' recovery and the struggles he faces is realistic as well.  I did think that the pacing within the middle of the book, as their relationship develops, could have been expanded a bit more, but it's a solid book as it stands.  

I loved this quote for several reasons.  First, it's true -- love is hard.  Second of all, I think it's a testament to the struggles that the main characters face as they pursue a relationship together.  Caring for or loving someone who is recovering mentally isn't a task for the faint of heart.  It isn't a romantic feat; you're not going to heal them with your love.  But it's worth standing by their side and helping them anyway.  This is such an important message, one that is sorely missing from similar books in the YA category.  

4/5 stars.

Next, let's talk about Ms. Krispense's book, Beloved -- it still gives me knives in my heart thinking about it.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Life without love is hopeless.

Foster teen Cara Richards is unloved. With nothing left and nowhere to go, she is determined to find peace, no matter the cost. But despite her intentions, she’s tossed into another foster family and this time, there’s no going back to who she used to be. To make matters worse, one of her five new foster brothers is a Jesus freak, and she refuses to believe that God actually cares.

Her world is thrown upside down in a way she never expects. Though she prides herself on a resilient heart, her mind is lost adrift among a sea of questions: Is death really the answer? Does God care about someone as unworthy as me? Can everyone truly be loved, no matter what?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kaitlyn is a farmer's daughter and a born-again believer in Christ with an obsession for books and music. It is these obsessions that led her to write her own stories. Psalm 46:10 gives her inspiration, her brothers make her laugh, and there's nothing quite like the excitement of opening an unread book for the first time. Her passion is to share the steadfast love of her Savior through the writing that takes up much of her free time, whether actual writing takes place or writer's block, in which case she's probably browsing Pinterest.

Blog | Goodreads | Instagram

MY REVIEW
Alright, like I said -- even thinking about this book hurts.  I read this book in one sitting.  If you know me, you're probably saying, "so...? You do that all the time?" 
I read this book in one sitting, on my phone, with a raging migraine -- and I can't bear to look at screens of any sort with a migraine.  That's how good this book was.  Her descriptions and narration choices were compelling and just grabbed me.  It's a book that made me get knots in my stomach, and I think that's good.  Not only did she discuss some of the horror stories and struggles that foster kids face, she showed a family that would do anything for a girl they barely knew -- loving her with open arms, some brotherly teasing, and a lot of God's grace from some of the characters.  This book is also one that shows the grit, the real side of suicide, the effect that it has on a person and the community around that person.  While I did find the story hard to start, I was hooked within a few chapters.
I found the grasp on Cara's internal struggles to be impressive.  Such instances were moments where readers really got to see Cara for herself, not for the tough face she tried to put on for her foster family or others around her.  After her initial suicide attempt, she recovers physically, but we're invited to see her mental recovery as well.  Her character arc was very believable, and I loved reading about her evolving interactions with her foster brothers.  

5/5 stars. 
  

Now that your interest is piqued, make sure you enter the giveaway for a chance to win BOTH of these great books! 

Click below to enter!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4b72337b1/?


Do you plan on reading Freedom or Beloved?

INTERVIEW + GUEST POST by Angela R. Watts: Worldbuilding Dystopians

Sunday, August 18, 2019


Hey everyone! ICYMI, Angela R. Watts' gritty, heart-pounding dystopian, The Divided Nation released this week and is now available on Amazon! I had the great opportunity to do an interview with Ms. Watts about her newest release, and she wrote a great guest post concerning the worldbuilding process for dystopian novels! Without further ado...

1) What inspired you to write The Divided Nation?

Years ago, I started a roleplay, and it went really far (soo many words and late nights), but the roleplayer ditched me after handing me the story rights. I tried to let it drop. It stung remembering it. But the characters didn't leave me. So I listened to God, changed a lot about the story, characters, etc, and wrote it!

2) Which characters were your favorite (or most challenging!) to write?

I adored writing Gideon, Alex, Rene', Nate...all of them, haha!

One challenging character is Alex Thompson. A Christian in the crossfire constantly, he's made me ask hard questions. How much faith would I have in the darkest of situations? Could I love God after losing loved ones? The things he faces really challenges me because his faith never falters!

3) How do you hope The Divided Nation impacts its readers?

I want it to inspire them that even though we are all broken sinners, there is a purpose for each of us. We cannot fulfill that purpose without God. We can't run from that truth, either.

This novel isn't for the fainthearted. It is for the hungry. The searching. The afraid. The broken. And I pray that my readers see a bit more of the light along the crooked path once they put this book down.


If this interview whet your appetite for a new book, make sure to check out The Divided Nation (The Infidel Books, #1) on GOODREADS and AMAZON. Also worth mentioning? It's only $0.99 for Kindle right now, so make sure to snag a copy!


SUMMARY

WHEN THE NATION DIVIDES, THE INFIDELS MUST RISE.

The United States has fallen. Three years after the 2024 presidential election and the declaration of martial law, the nation is at war against itself. Gangs battle, civilians struggle for survival, and officials of the United Nations  thrive. West Johnston, heir to the most powerful ganglord in the country, refuses to continue the family legacy. But, in order to defeat his father, he must become him: bloodthirsty and willing to do whatever it takes for control.

West gains control by helping fellow gangsters, Nate and Simon, when they form an alliance with one of the last remaining townships in America. After years of surviving and winter fast approaching, Springtown is in desperate need of supplies from the two teenagers. When the town leader’s daughter, Rene’, is kidnapped by an unknown rival, Nate and Simon risk their reputations to save her and the town they now love. But without help from West, their rescue mission will fail.

Told in multiple bold, abrasive narratives, THE DIVIDED NATION steps into a future where brotherhood bonds must be stronger than iron to survive a broken world, and faith without courage is dust in the wind.


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Onto the guest post!


Dystopian is a wild setting. Maybe you think of factions when you hear dystopian. Maybe you think of a maze. Maybe you think of a small town in Florida (c’mon, please, someone get that reference). Dystopian is one of my favorite genres because of how familiar and UNfamiliar the settings can be. You can get as imaginative as you’d like without, say, having to make up magic systems.

The Divided Nation, The Infidel Books #1, is a dystopian series taking place in the US during 2027. I tried to push the idea away for a long while. “It’s too hard!” I whined to my mom. “Dystopian takes so much research and worldbuilding and I’d better wait till I’m older.” Well, God had other plans, obviously. My problem, if you couldn’t tell… I was limiting myself. A lot.

Fiction isn’t meant to limit the author. Dystopian doesn’t have to be some impossible genre. I let it intimidate me because, surely, I’d have to take a class on tech if I wanted to write it, right? Wrong. Dystopian is a fun, eye-opening genre to plot, write, and share. Here’s why.







Research Doesn’t Have to Be Agonizing

Research. The one word that many authors cringe over. I cringed over it. I didn’t want to write a whole series because of it. Pathetic, right? Well, dystopian isn’t actually something you have to take courses for.

Dystopian is basically scifi. Not contemporary. This really cleared my mindset. I had more freedom to write than I thought! I didn’t have to write essays on world government! I did, however, do research. But not in the way you think. My advice… remember what you’ve already learned. I was taking a government class last year and it had lots of basic information on America’s judicial system and rights from early days. I logged all that away. I also researched and refreshed myself on other world views, like Islam, and other small scale things, like how gangs work, how bigger gangs are dealt with, smuggling across borders, etc.

On the surface, I didn’t do a ton of research, but I did enjoy “small” research sessions. I asked Google and my police officer senseis different questions (about guns… poisons… etc). Research can be kinda fun if you don’t limit yourself all the time.

In the end, I took what I knew, refreshed, and learned about things I didn’t know. But this wasn’t for the first draft. Do not forget this. The first draft is not to be bogged down with research! It is not wise to focus so much on worldbuilding that you forget to WRITE!

Worldbuilding Can Actually Be Fun

Dystopian needs worldbuilding. Obviously. But how do you worldbuild the future? That’s up for every author to decide. Personally, I enjoyed worldbuilding for this series. I’m sick of The Hunger Games and Divergent type worldbuilding, so I went for something different. I didn’t want the element of “big government is totally bad and chosen people can fix everything!”... I wanted mine to be more current day realistic. 

In this series, which takes place during 2027 and after, the US government has fallen. Sharia law enters after martial law was declared when Civil War II broke out. Sound scary? I hope so. Why did I choose this worldbuilding idea? Because I think it is realistic in its own way. Our current world is divided. Our current laws are corrupted. So I took all of the things I was seeing and built my world off of it! It didn’t exactly takes the years I thought it would take, haha.

Oh, but let’s not start yawning yet. I said it wasn’t contemporary, right? Where’s the scifi? Don’t worry. While The Divided Nation is not heavy with scifi content, the books that follow will slowly tap into what else the government is working on. But that’s all I can say for now...

Inspired by the book of Revelation and the way the world looks now, I built a world that reflects our own but is worse. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

The Big Element Was the Hardest...

I wanted to have a dystopian series that wasn’t totally hopeless. Not a very popular element! If you’ve noticed, most dystopian is morbid and hopeless without any signs of hope. Hope is smashed in the dark forever. That isn’t what I wanted to write, at all. I’m a Christian. I know God is always present within us, even in the darkest places. But… my novel wasn’t “clean” enough for the standard Christian market, and I didn’t want to sugar coat anything to make people digest it easier. Was I fighting a hopeless battle?

Definitely not. I wanted my story to be terrifying and gritty with God’s love piercing the blackness. I knew not every Christian would bother with it. I also knew the story needed to be written and shared.

So I clung to that theme of glorifying God through the dark. I added elements that are often shied away from: a corrupt government, gangsters, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, parental abuse, alcohol abuse, and the awful things soldiers/warriors face with torture and PTSD. Sounds like this novel should be R rated, yeah? It isn’t. Because I wrote this novel to glorify God, not to glorify sin. It was possible with His help. I prayed everything over, dove into the Bible, and didn’t let go of my purpose. 

In the end, the element of hope during dark times was a success. Was it easy? No. Did I have people condemn the book? Sure. But I didn’t expect everyone to love it. It isn’t for Christian market, which is what I’m used to, which is what most of my friends love best. But I stayed true to God and the story. It was so worth it. 
And that is how, my dear reader, I worldbuilded (shh, that’s a word) The Divided Nation! I hope you enjoyed this post. Thanks Michaela, for having me!

Angela


ABOUT ANGELA


Angela R. Watts is a Christian fiction author who strives to glorify the Lord in all she does.  She's a homeschooled highschooler living at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she tends to travel.  She's been writing stories since she was little, but also enjoys chores, painting, and watching sunsets.




Make sure to check out her giveaway for The Divided Nation as well!  Physical books and items can only be shipped in the US, however, so if an international winner is drawn, please keep in mind that they will receive an ebook instead. 
1st place: hardback copy of The Divided Nation.  A custom mug with a quote from the book, bookmark, and an exclusive snippet from The Infidel Books.  
2nd place: paperback copy of The Divided Nation, bookmark.
3rd place: ebook copy of The Divided Nation.

Click HERE to enter!